2014 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX
It was a result that British sport, let alone British motorsport, badly needed. And it was a result that Lewis Hamilton needed even more.
And I hope you’ll forgive me on this one as I’m normally quite impartial on these matters, but it was a result that I was delighted to see.
The title race, as I said shortly after Lewis crossed the line “is back on” and for once the luck went with the British driver.
Twenty-four hours after his world, through his own mistake, was falling apart, the beautiful unpredictable nature of live sport has taken Lewis Hamilton to within striking distance of the Championship lead. Although the 120,000 fans had been robbed of a straight fight for the lead when Rosberg’s gearbox packed up, there were still plenty of other battles going on to delight the crowds.
Lewis did make a mistake in qualifying - he admitted it straight away. An uncharacteristic error, conceding the chance to improve his lap, or at least to keep Nico behind him on track. Baffling at the time and I still can’t quite work out why he did it? Lewis may not have believed he could improve on his provisional pole time, but I’ve never known a driver give up and allow a rival the possibility to beat him. So while the improvement of four seconds in the final sector is rare - if not unprecedented - the fact that Lewis wasn’t in a position to take advantage is a slip up that, on Saturday night, looked to have been very costly.
I’d been asked by Mercedes to host an appearance with Lewis in the Fan Village shortly after qualifying and to be honest I did enquire as to whether it would still be taking place. But not only did it go ahead, to the delight of the thousands of fans who had been gathering for ages outside the teams merchandise stand, every single one of Lewis’ sponsor and team commitments took place as well. So credit to a young man who, as he stepped out of the car at the end of qualifying, looked to me that his world had just fallen apart.
Credit also goes to the British fans who not only deafened Natalie Pinkham and I with the reception for Lewis at the start of Sky F1’s live show on the grid on Thursday night, but now decided that they could play their part in lifting their hero for Sunday’s race. The reception that Lewis got on that Saturday afternoon was just magnificent, and although the man still looked very down when he arrived, he departed twenty minutes later with a smile on his face.
Fast forward to Sunday and Silverstone was the expected sea of pink. Once again, the supporters responded and responded brilliantly, this time to Jenson Button’s desire to see his home Grand Prix pay tribute to his late father John, a man who always wore pink on race day and whom we all miss in the F1 paddock terribly.
One more lap and Jenson’s wish for a first Silverstone F1 podium could have come true as well - Ricciardo would have been caught and Jenson would have taken third. With all due respect to Daniel, it was heartbreaking to see Jenson to come so close and yet still end up outside the top three. His drive in the race was exceptional, a perfect response to Ron Dennis’ comments in the build up to the race, and to see him finish on the podium would have been a total joy - the perfect addition to Hamilton’s victory celebrations.
And it was a victory that Lewis admitted was as much down to the support he received as it was the ailing gearbox of his team mate. He even quoted Disney’s ‘Monsters Inc’, (I prefer ‘Planes’ myself!), in his post-race interview, telling Sky viewers that like in the movie where the Monsters gather energy from fear, you gather far more from happiness and laughter. It was an analogy that I hadn’t expected but it showed to me how much he fed off the support in the build-up and throughout the weekend.
So British Formula 1 fans, nice one. You played your part and your efforts didn’t go unnoticed. You gave great support to all the drivers throughout the weekend, and it’s one of the major things that set the Silverstone fans apart from other crowds around the world. Knowledgeable, passionate and when it’s right, partisan too. And for once, as far as I was concerned, it was totally appropriate to be patriotic. After all, it’s been a pretty poor summer to be a British sports fan, so we should take the opportunity to celebrate when it comes, right?
As for my British Grand Prix weekend, I had a blast. I stayed, as I normally do, at Whittlebury Park and had some great chats with the fans camping out. Thanks everyone for stopping and saying hello.
Sky F1 took Kimi Raikkonen for a spot of lawnmower racing, which made for a brilliant feature and was thoroughly enjoyed by Kimi, Ferrari and especially Johnny Herbert who seemed to spend more of the race on two wheels than four! The live show on the grid on Thursday was amazing - such a brilliant atmosphere. I gather from my conversations over the weekend that the pit lane walkabout went down very well too, and it was lovely to see the fans able to get closer to the cars and the teams.
I missed the Kaiser Chiefs sadly - I had to wait until Sunday night for my live music fix. Metallica at Knebworth were beautifully loud and simply awesome. Unforgettable, as was the weekend as a whole.
A brilliant race, Silverstone looking splendid in the sunshine for its 50th Grand Prix, a home win, my overtake of the season in Alonso’s move on Vettel at Copse, classic cars in the parades, classic moments in the race - it was a weekend that had a little bit of everything. Roll on next year, booking is open already and I can’t wait to see you there.
The British Grand Prix: my highlight of the Formula 1 season and after the weekend we’ve just had, it’s easy to see why.comments powered by Disqus